It is a situation that, even a month ago, would have appeared unimaginable. A 23-year-old phenom who was already on a career path that would eventually take him to Cooperstown gave up his prime.
To acquire Soto and Josh Bell from the Washington Nationals, the Padres had to part with a number of players, including past top prospects Mackenzie Gore and C.J. Abrams, present No. 1 prospect Robert Hassell III, and No. 3 prospect James Wood. However, the return more than outweighs the risk because the Padres will acquire one of the best players in the league.
Soto, who is currently in his sixth season, is among some esteemed company. Only six players in MLB history have completed their age-23 season with an OPS of.966 or better and at least 100 home runs. The Hall of Fame includes Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, and Mel Ott. It will be Albert Pujols in five years. Soto is the second.
An on-base machine is Soto. He has a.324 batting average, a 1.177 OPS, and has reached base in more than half of his last 25 plate appearances. He blasted a home run and took three walks on Monday in what turned out to be his final game wearing a Nationals uniform.
Fernando Tatis Jr., a 23-year-old phenom who has missed the entire season while recovering from a wrist injury but has begun taking batting practice, will partner with Soto in the Padres’ batting order.
Together, they’ll probably be baseball’s most dynamic tandem, two gifted young people whose finest years are yet ahead of them. Beyond 2022, Soto will be controlled by the team for an additional two years.
The Padres are done trailing their Southern California rivals, the Dodgers, by 12 games in the NL West. They propelled themselves to real World Series contenders on Tuesday with one spectacular move.
At the trading deadline, the Padres prevailed. Some people, though, may not be pleased to see Soto wearing a Padres uniform. Here are the “bargain of the century’s” top three losers.